They say happiness is a thing you can't see,
a thing you can't touch.
(lyrics from the song Happiness, from the musical Scrooge)
Fingers of sunlight reached through ice-covered windowpanes to stroke Jane's face. She scooted closer to Rhys. He was eleven, a year older than her, and so warm she didn't need to curl up near the fire to feel toasty. She pressed her nose against his back and smiled as heat rose through layers of cloth. "Are you awake?" she whispered.
She giggled. Rhys was funny. He came from Wales and seemed to pronounce every letter in a word, making the vowels sound longer on purpose sometimes to make her laugh. He was going to be a dragon keeper one day, he said, when You-Know-Who took over the Ministry and werewolves got treated same as wizards. Jane didn't know if You-Know-Who would help them—her mum and dad used to say he was evil and only wanted power—but she hoped Rhys' dream came true.
Rhys was her new best friend.
They were the youngest members of the pack. The other boys and girls were older, teenagers, not interested in playing with a "cub" like her, although sometimes one of the girls would brush her hair. Even the nicest boy, Remus, wasn't one to play games. He was more like a teacher. It was interesting learning about clouds and the names of animals and birds that came to the loch. Rhys teased her about wanting to be a know-it-all, but when she said dragon keepers had to be smart as well as brave, he followed her down to the dock where Remus spent hours fishing.
It was better learning about things with a friend. She listened more than talked, but Rhys always spoke up and asked, "Why?" or "So?" Afterward, when she and Rhys were out gathering firewood or out on a lark, they talked about the answers they'd received and the questions they wanted to ask.
She breathed in the scent of her friend—Remus told them wolves used their noses to recognise each other that way—and said softly, so she wouldn't wake those sleeping around them, "I don't want to leave the cottage. I want to stay forever."
Rhys turned to face her. "We've been here two weeks, a long time for us, and winter's better in Inverness, you'll see. Old warehouses have loads of space to play in."
"Hide and seek?"
"But no loch," Jane said. "And I never got to swim."
Rhys grinned. "Let's do it now."
"We'll have Remus cast warming charms."
Remus slept at the far end of the one room cottage. He agreeably cast the spells.
"Do you know a drying charm?" Jane asked.
"Ace! We'll need it when we get back," Rhys said, taking Jane's hand.
Outside, he said, "Last one in the water's a rotten dragon egg!"
Jane broke into a run, laughing as her feet pounded the earth, rattled the boards of the dock, and launched her—for a breathless moment—into the sky.
Happiness is a bright star.
Are we happy?
Yes, we are.
Happiness is a clear sky.
Give me wings and let me fly.
For happiness is whatever you want it to be.
A/N: If there's anyone who hasn't seen the musical Scrooge, I highly recommend it! The songs are classic. If there's someone who hasn't read the two drabble-short stories that preceded this one, See Jane Run and A Teacher in Wolf's Clothing, I'd love for you to go read what you've missed. :) As always, those who review will be cherished like Christmas. I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month again, and while I'm glad to be starting a new novel, I miss the reader feedback of fan fiction.